Recorded at Baltimore's Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse 4/23/11
In 1982, long-time radical activist Susan Rosenberg was placed on the FBI's most-wanted list with orders of "shoot to kill." In 1984, she and Timothy Blunk were unloading a U-Haul filled with 740 pounds of explosives at a storage facility in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, when the FBI arrived. Rosenberg was sentenced to 58 years in federal prison and spent the next 16 horrific years in some of the worst maximum security womanâs prisons in the country.
Rosenberg served time in six different federal institutions and endured the first ten years in varying degrees of seclusion, including stints in the first experimental high security unit (HSU) for women and in the first maximum-security prison for women in the United States. At HSU she was regularly strip- searched, heavily chained, and subjected to intense psychological torture such as complete isolation,
sleep deprivation, twenty-four hour lighting, and constant surveillance. Susan and others in conjunction with the ACLU prison project, and the support of Amnesty International fought and won the closing of this experiment. Rosenberg went on to other prisons, later working in general population as an HIV peer educator and teacher until she was granted executive clemency by President Bill Clinton, in January 2001.
Candid and eloquent, Susan Rosenberg's powerful memoir is a profound indictment of the U.S. prison system, as she recounts her journey from the impassioned idealism of the 1960s to life as a political prisoner in her own country and reflects Americaâs turbulent coming-of-age over the past half century.
SUSAN ROSENBERG has been a speaker, educator, and lecturer to those concerned with the issues of women in prison, political prisoners, prison reform, and social justice activism. Since 2004, Rosenberg, has served as the director of communications at a faith-based human-rights organization working to alleviate poverty, hunger, and disease in the developing world. Rosenberg received a BA in American history from the City University of New York and an MA in writing from Antioch University. She lives in New York City.